If I could control how people see me they would only notice my good traits. I would hide every flaw and weakness in my life. Now this might not give a true picture, but it sure would help the way people look at me.
Those who know me well, the ones who are around me the most, get more of the big picture. They see the good and bad in my life. They know how I respond under pressure, my strengths and weaknesses. It is just not possible to hide as much from them as I can from people who do not know me well.
I know that my words and actions influence the way people think about me. If you like what I say and do then you will like me, but if my words and actions irritate you then you will not think much of me. So our good name hinges on what we do and how others see us.
People may not agree on whether to like or dislike me, even after looking at the same evidence. Why? It is due to how they see right and wrong or good and bad. If I do something they view as good or bad then their opinion of me will reflect that. This is not to say their vision of right and wrong is correct, but it usually sways how they see us. For example, among thieves a good pickpocket gets respect, but that does not make it right.
Remember the Jews respected Paul while he persecuted Christians, but God’s people did not think much of him. (Acts 9:1-2) After Paul’s baptism and his preaching Christ at Damascus the Jews’ view of Paul changed and they wanted to kill him. (Acts 9:23) When Paul first went to Jerusalem the disciples there wanted nothing to do with him because they knew him as a persecutor. (Acts 9:27-27) Barnabas had to vouch for Paul because the Christians did not trust him.
We need to know our standing with people begins the moment someone hears or sees us for the first time. If we make a good first imprint then we can build on it, but if we leave someone with a bad taste it may be hard to get over. Do you think visitors to our assembly will feel welcomed and more likely to come back if we are pleasant, kind, and inviting in the way we greet them? Is it better for them to see us a little bothered and hurried, as if we do not want to be there ourselves?
The better choice is clear, so when we come to the assembly we need to make sure we put our best forward. (Heb. 10:24-25) If you are having a bad day or dealing with problems, try to put all of that behind you and be glad you are worshipping God. (Psalms 122:1)
Solomon wrote about the value of a good name when he said to choose it rather than great riches. (Prov. 22:1) He also recorded “A good name is better than precious ointment.” (Eccl. 7:1) Precious ointment was not only valuable, but had healing power as well. So according to Solomon a good name is worth more than wealth and health.
By serving Christ faithfully we can find the good name we should be looking for. I am not saying everyone will agree we have a good name, but Christ knows us. What people like Demetrius, the silversmith of Acts 19, thinks about us means nothing. Demetrius made his living by crafting idols and Paul taught against idolatry, so he did not like Paul. Our response must be like Peter’s when he said “We must obey God rather than men.”(Acts 5:29)
Think about the good names God gives us when we obey Him. We wear the name Christian, which means a follower of Christ. (1 Peter 4:16) All Christians are saints; holy and set apart for the Lord. (Col. 1:2) The Bible calls us disciples, children, and sons and daughters. These names say who we are and speak of our bond with Christ.
We want to make sure our name appears in the book of life, the book containing all the names of those saved. (Phil. 4:3) If your name is in this book then your name is better than all the famous and powerful people whose names are not. What a great blessing to realize God knows your name because you serve with Him. (John 10:14)
Sadly, some names in the Bible find themselves linked with evil and corrupt lives. What do you think of when you hear the name Judas, yet remember he started out an apostle like the other eleven? Paul called out Phygelus and Hermogenes for turning away from him. (2 Tim. 1:15) Demas loved the world and left Paul. (2 Tim. 4:10) No one who knows the Bible and serves God respects these names because they represent evil people.
We need to grow our good name and continue to cultivate the traits that will keep it strong. We do not do this by accident or chance. We must purpose to live right and then understand God is the one who tells us what is right. It is good to know the Bible gives us everything we need to live godly and faithful lives. (1 Peter 1:2-4)